EDP Global Solutions is the global business service (GS) company for the EDP Group. After making the decision to implement RPA technology to improve productivity and efficiency, EDP GS was ambitious with its rollout. The approach clearly paid off: In less than three years, EDP GS automated more than 450 critical business processes and saved more than 200,000 total hours.
After making the decision to implement RPA technology to improve productivity and efficiency, EDP GS was ambitious with its rollout. The approach clearly paid off: In less than three years, EDP GS automated more than 450 critical business processes and saved more than 200,000 total hours.
EDP GS is a shared global business service center for the EDP Group with hundreds of critical systems and processes and is always looking for new ways to increase operational efficiencies, enable employees to become more productive, and ultimately, improve its own service offerings.
This commitment led the company to implement Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology. Nuno Chung, EDP GS's Executive Board Member, recalls that he attended an international shared services business conference that first introduced him to RPA. “The conference had a session on RPA that showed how this seeming technology of the future was delivering significant benefits today,” he said. “I could immediately see many different ways that RPA could help EDP GS, and I knew that RPA was a perfect fit for us.”
A commitment to excellence leads to just one platform: UiPath
EDP GS partnered with global consultancy company Deloitte to better understand its options, select the right RPA vendor, and ultimately, seek assistance to deploy the technology as efficiently—and as effectively—as possible. The Deloitte team presented industry research and many independent RPA benchmark studies to help EDP GS learn more. After this education, it was time to evaluate and select the best RPA vendor.
EDP GS's vendor assessment focused on three RPA companies: UiPath, Blue Prism, and Automation Anywhere. While the selection criteria included all of the traditional factors, such as price, functionality, licensing, support models, and more, EDP was laser focused on one other aspect: ease of use.
Nuno ChungExecutive Board Member
We were looking for RPA technology that was extremely easy—easy to use, configure, learn, adopt, and manage. Admittedly, we had extremely high expectations, and UiPath exceeded them all. They clearly stood apart from the competition in this important area, which is the main reason we picked them.
“We decided that we wanted to go as quickly as possible, which meant that we wouldn’t require vendors to complete a traditional proof of concept,” explained Chung. “This decision emphasized the need for the RPA to be extremely easy—easy to use, configure, learn, adopt, and manage. Admittedly, we had extremely high expectations, and UiPath exceeded them all. They clearly stood apart from the competition in this important area, which is the main reason we picked them.”
0 to 84 (processes) in just 12 months
After selecting UiPath, EDP GS needed to determine the best place to start. After an initial board meeting where Chung presented the value of RPA to executives, the company also pitched the technology to an internal team of 16 business unit managers. In doing so, EDP GS was looking to find those processes that were best suited for automation, and in turn, would deliver the best benefits to the business.
The business unit managers came back with an initial list of 128 potential RPA projects. On one hand, this seemed to be good news—EDP GS could improve so many workflows!—but this high number simply wasn’t a realistic starting point. The RPA team conducted an extensive review process to thoroughly understand each process and give managers an opportunity to make their case. After diving deeper, the team was able to consolidate redundant requests and reprioritize the list to focus on the processes that could save the most amount of hours or provide the highest ROI.
EDP GS designed a three-phase rollout plan to best implement, test, and manage the RPA technology:
- Phase 1: A 6-month RPA project which would start with Deloitte’s help
- Phase 2: They would start to develop robots without Deloitte’s help and would test achieving user autonomy
- Phase 3: Growth phase
The company also created its own Center of Excellence (CoE). This internal model allowed RPA developers to work within their own business units, but also let the CoE act as an ongoing regulator. The CoE helped spread the word about the RPA project, provided many specific best practices, and trained additional users.
All of this paid off. Despite its conservative start, EDP GS used UiPath Robots to automate 39 workflows in the first six months and 45 more in the next six-month period—a total of 85 newly automated processes in just 12 months.
Seeing is believing … and all the evidence employees needed
When the rollout began, many employees didn’t know what to expect. “In the very beginning, there was a bit of apprehension, mostly because the majority of our employees had never heard of RPA,” says Jacinta Carvalho, Head of the RPA Center of Excellence. “Without the right knowledge, many employees perceived robots as a technology that would threaten their jobs. We understood these concerns and did all we could to alleviate them.”
Jacinta CarvalhoHead of the RPA Center of Excellence
We made it clear that our RPA project was not intended to replace workers. Instead, our focus was on increasing productivity, creating efficient processes, and improving the overall quality of our operations. We always wanted our employees to do the work that they were passionate about.
EDP GS accomplished this goal by presenting use cases and other materials that showed how RPA focuses on automating those manual, time-consuming, repetitive tasks that employees often don’t like anyway. “We made it clear that our RPA project was not intended to replace human employees,” says Carvalho. “Instead, our focus was on increasing productivity, creating efficient processes, and improving the overall quality of our operations. We always wanted our employees to do the work that they were passionate about.”
For employees, seeing really was believing. After witnessing early successes and realizing there was room for humans and robots, EDP employees jumped on board to support the RPA initiative going forward.
450 successful automations and counting
When asked to describe one automated process that best highlights EDP GS's experience with UiPath, Carvalho hesitated. “Our Robots and automations are like our children,” she said. “We love them all.”
Jacinta CarvalhoHead of the RPA Center of Excellence
The time savings have been huge. Automating helped us save more than 200 000 hours since 2017. These processes run faster and more accurate. With UiPath, everything is perfect and completely controlled.
Still, some of the first automations remain the most impressive. For example, EDP GS has to produce a monthly report that includes different information related to employees’ social security and work compensation. Making it more difficult, the report needs to be created for 29 different companies within the entire EDP Group, a process that involves logging into 2 systems, 29 times each, copying and pasting information, or manually entering data. In the past, four employees were responsible for creating this report each month, in part to meet aggressive deadlines and avoid costly fines if they were missed.
The entire process is faster, more accurate, and according to Carvalho, has helped the company meet every deadline. “With UiPath, everything is perfect and completely controlled.”
BY THE NUMBERS
- 450+ Processes EDP GS has automated in its journey so far
- 220k hoursTotal hours saved by eliminating past manual efforts
- 85Successful automations in the first 12 months
- 15+Robot developers currently working to develop new automations
- 170Employees that have been trained on UiPath RPA and now serve as automation evangelists
As EDP GS looks to the future, it’s excited about what is still to come. “We are continuing to deploy new Robots and automate new processes,” said Chung. “We are also investing in other new technologies, such as chatbots to help on suppliers management and employee-care tasks, or Process Mining to even better identify the best process-candidates for automation.”
Chung is confident that his company made the right choice by partnering with UiPath, but he does have one regret. “I wish we started our RPA journey sooner,” he said. “For any company looking to get started with RPA, my advice is to jump in and get started today. You’ll see significant results so fast that you’ll regret every day that you delayed your decision.”